Persistent vs. Stubborn

Sunday’s sermon at church was about persistent vs. stubborn. It was a really great sermon, as many of Pastor Mark’s sermons do it spoke to real life issues. He has that knack of being able to speak about something that is ruminating in my brain without realizing it.

Being persistent usually has a positive connotation while being referred to as stubborn usually has a pejorative meaning. Interestingly the phrase has been used interchangeably to describe me throughout my life. I have worn the badge of stubbornness with pride.

The sermon was timely given that the day before I had done the practice fitness test to horrible results. My “sprint” was nothing more than a fast jog. My legs were heavy and I just couldn’t make my body go any faster. It literally hurt to move my legs any faster. My hip flexors were screaming at the strain and as a result my knee and hamstrings would not cooperate. It was beyond frustrating and bordered on heart breaking.

However, I suppose there is slight humor in the situation. For six years I have been forcing myself to move from a sprinters mentality to a distance runner mentality. It has been a true struggle to get my brain to stop thinking in meters and instead think in miles. Literally this year I finally get in the zone of being a distance runner and then suddenly find myself having to flip the switch back the other way….with less than two weeks before the marathon no less. It is definitely a crazy situation to be in.

I struggled the rest of the afternoon on Saturday, emotionally fighting and railing about how I have fought so hard to get here only to fall short of the physical requirements. I rambled off all my accomplishments and how it seemed patently unfair that I could get this far and fall short. I was angry that I had allowed my marathon training to take over my PFT training. I muttered about all the time I wasted “studying” or “sitting at the office.”

During what could really only be described as a pity party,  Jesi reminded me that I am persistent. I have never given up, in the five years I have working towards my dream goal of being a federal agent I have never given up. I always step back and regroup and then find another way. She reminded me that through it all I have never, ever given up or even thought about giving up so I shouldn’t start now.

Jesi’s reminder could also be applied to my running. Numerous times in my life I have been told that I would never physically be able to lead an active life or that I would never walk again. I have been told that running a marathon would not be in my best interest. Despite that I have continued to persevere and achieve that medal at the end of the race. Each successive race seems to have some improvement, maybe not necessarily finish time but something about the process improves.

I guess the sermon made me wonder am I persistent or am I stubborn? Or am I both? I have to be persistent in achieving my goals. I have to continue to fight and change those things that need improvement. And I have to be stubborn in my execution of that. Stubborn to the point of nearsightedness. Stubborn to the point of throwing caution and the naysayers to the wind.

On the persistent side I reached out to Regina and asked if we could do some sprinting practice in addition to some distance….low and behold with an adjusted mindset and some insight from Regina I managed to shave nearly 11 seconds off my  sprinting time. I kept chanting “sprinter” as I took the laps around the track.On the stubborn side, I refuse to give up until someone says that you are done. You can not go any further in this process.

Being persistent is great and despite the negative connotation that goes with being stubborn, I think there needs to be a grain of stubbornness included in the mix in order to achieve anything that you are striving for.

On an actually running/training note, I have been keeping up with my training plan. I have been juggling a crazy class schedule with training and have been so focused on that I often forget to blog. Well not often, I do forget to blog. During my runs I think of all the insightful things I will share when I boot up my computer but then I usually roll or hit the books and my blog thoughts go by the wayside.

I think that is a side effect of the taper. Things are going well but I am tired. My taper week will look a little different since I am now having to refocus on my PFT which occurs 48 hours before the marathon. It is an interesting exercise (literal and mental) in juggling two incredibly important things, the give and take has been a true test of my persistent stubbornness.

How is your training going? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Happy Running (or sprinting)!

Sunday Run Day

I still felt gnarly on Sunday. Not AS gnarly as Saturday but I still didn’t feel 100% better. But I pushed through choir (a heavy polyester robe is bad on a cool day but when the church is hot and I don’t feel well I was fanning myself like a little old church lady) and the task force meeting. Interestingly or ironically enough we had pizza at our meeting. Jesi and I giggled that we could have waited a few more hours and our pizza craving would have been fulfilled and with far superior pizza.

But despite not feeling the grandest of grand, I struck out on my run. The temperatures were cool and there was some sun but some clouds so it wasn’t a horribly warm day or particularly cool. It was like Baby Bear’s bed, just right.

One thing that I am finding most exciting about my long runs, or really my runs in generally, is that I am going for longer distances without stopping. I still have the desire to stop and walk but I find that I either slow my running pace down a little bit and push through or manage to walk for much shorter periods when running is no feels longer possible. It is exciting that I can go miles without stopping where I use to focus on minutes running versus walking.

I struck out on a different route towards the Mt. Olivet cemetery. I incorporated last weekend’s long run with the route Becky and I took on Thursday. It was a great course that mixed some flat spots and some increasing elevation. By the time I got to the cemetery I had almost half my run done, I stopped and tinkled and decided that I would go visit my friend Sara’s memorial marker.

One thing I did not share on my September 11th blog, was that this year also marked the one year anniversary of the passing of our best friend Sara. After a three year fight she lost  the battle with beast cancer. At 37 she was a force of positivity and love. She was a true hero and warrior, both as a cancer fighter and as a Sergeant in the sheriff’s department. Her loss has left a huge irreparable hole in the hearts of all that knew her, but especially the heart of her “best friend” Noah.

Noah is the son of Sara’s life long best friend, he always saw his Aunt Sara has an overly tall 3, 4 or 5 year old. He just assumed that Sara was his best friend and his age. The loss has been particularly hard on him because he doesn’t quite understand why Sara no longer comes over. He often asks when Sara will come back from heaven.Navigating grief is hard enough at any age, but it is especially hard for someone so young.

On the anniversary of Sara’s passing, Noah and his parents and younger brother made the trip to the cemetery. While Sara is not physically laid to rest at Mt. Olivet there is a memorial marker placed there. Noah picked out the most beautiful flowers he thought Aunt Sara would like; a fun and patriotic mix of red, white and blue flowers. He also picked out his most favorite photo of he and Sara together. Noah and his mom carefully put the photo in a couple of plastic bags to protect it from the elements and then carefully adhered it to the lower corner of the marker.

Tara (Noah’s mom) shared the story on Facebook. I replied that when I run I always visit Sara so I will always make sure that Noah’s photo is in place. Since this was the first day I had a true long run, it was the first time I had visited Sara in a few weeks. I was sadden to see that the flowers and picture were gone. And then angered when I found them in the trash. The photo crumbled in the bag and the tape removed. The flowers split apart.

I’m not quite sure what led me to the trash can, though in my heart I could hear Sara guiding me to save Noah’s carefully crafted offerings. Initially I thought it was the wind/Mother Nature. However knowing a bit of the back story of her familial dynamics and seeing the condition of the  items I had a hard time blaming  Mother Nature.

I put the flowers back as best I could and safely tucked the photo away in my running pouch. And for the 6 plus miles home I seethed. I was so angry that I actually texted Jesi, something I rarely do when running so that I can concentrate on training. I texted her a picture of the trash can and incredulously texted what I presumed had happened.

On my run home, I felt the anger bubble inside. I was angry that someone would be so callous towards a small child. I was angry that someone was attempting to control others outward expression of grief and love. I was angry that Sara had been taken far too soon.

Through the anger came the feeling of gratitude. I was grateful that I had decided to stop at Sara’s site. I was grateful that I had been lead to the trash can to retrieve Noah’s precious picture.

Grief comes at you strange ways and in strange moments. It rears it head at moments when you least expect it and in ways you never thought imaginable. And I was reminded that grief was part of the reason I began running. I was trying to figure out a way to work through my grief at losing the life I thought I had built with a woman who threw it all away. The life that I thought was waiting for me six years ago was merely an illusion at that moment in time. I am grateful for those moments of grief because it opened the way for something more beautiful and special. In that those moments spent thinking of grief and loss, I ended up running a negative split home.

I used the fire that burned to drive my legs home. The exhaustion and dread I felt early seemed to have evaporated. I felt lighter and more surefooted. My stride picked up and the miles home seem to melt away. I ended up running 12.25 miles in 2 hours and 30 minutes. I had hoped to finish a bit quicker, but taking into consideration how sick I felt Saturday and that I had a full stomach of food I don’t typically eat before a run I was pleased. Mostly I was pleased that I ran more than I walked and that my walk breaks really were just brief interludes designed to help me catch my breath, recenter myself and begin again in a more consistent stride.

After an email exchange with Noah’s mom, we decided that the best course of action was for me to carry Noah’s photo with me. Since I run by Sara’s memorial marker every week I promised to take Noah’s photo by for visit; while we are both trying desperately to convince ourselves that it was nature NOT something else we both feel that rehanging the photo is the best course of action. I have placed the precious photo securely in my hydration pack and will lovingly and protectively carry it with me.

This blog didn’t quite go the way I thought it would. But as with life I can plan my blog but I can’t always plan how it will turn out. My run on Sunday started out as a simple run but turned into a wacky, wild mess of emotions, thoughts and discovery. But that is running and I wouldn’t change a damn thing about it.

Happy Running!

 

 

Well That Didn’t Go As Planned

It wasn’t the food, I swear. Or the adult beverage. Or the adorable cats and visiting. I woke up Saturday ready to tackle my 12 miles, possibly more. However when I got up I felt kind of nauseous and light headed. I felt like my stomach was rebelling against me in all means possible. Despite feeling crappy I decided to get up and move around a little bit thinking I would be ok in a minute. I assumed that whatever it was would of course be cured in one minute.

I made my pre-run oatmeal but the more that I moved around the more fuzzy and sick I felt. What was one minute turned into ten and the feeling wasn’t getting any better. I ended up curling back up in bed after eating what I thought would be a magically restorative bowl of oatmeal, but when I woke again to strike out for a run I realized that it wasn’t at all a good idea.

I honestly couldn’t tell if sudden movement was going to make me vomit or the other end. Sorry for the TMI!! Deciding that I didn’t want to strike out and possibly shat my pantaloons or yak in front of traffic, I thought postponing until Sunday would be a better option.

It was a very strange feeling, I was nauseous and gassy and my head felt kind of heavy. I’m not sure if there was too much sodium in my meal or if there was some ingredient in my meal that hadn’t been there before that was interacting oddly with my system. My whiskey sour wasn’t particularly potent and I spent a couple hours nursing it between sips of water. But whatever the reason I ended up spending the day under the covers in my pajamas.

Jesi was kind enough to make me soup and for some strange reason, by the evening I was craving pizza. We ordered Pizza Hut and it was the most delicious pizza I have ever eaten. Jesi was excited because she had never, in her recollection, ever had delivery pizza. Again, I’m not sure why I was craving it or why it was so delicious.

As frustrated as I was that I was unable to run, I did some time thinking of my training route for Sunday. I thought about the best route to tackle for the training that wouldn’t be able to commence until the afternoon; between choir responsibilities and our church’s O&A task force meeting afterward I knew that I wouldn’t be starting until mid afternoon. I tried to think of how I wanted to frame my training. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have as many hills as I have in previous weeks. I began to visualize the route that I would take and how I was going to feel. I visualized how that route would correspond with the actual marathon course. I tried to figure out how to incorporate the new route that Becky and I had discovered on Thursday. I really analyzed my options all while trying to keep the world from spinning.

As we get closer to the race, I notice that I visual the course more and more. While there were some changes made to the course there are still aspects of the course that have remained unchanged through my 5 years running. It is those unchanged portions that I often find myself struggling with. I try to emulate those sections, whether it be in elevation (why I typically plan for a steep hill by mile one) or a particularly mentally challenging part (the Blue Mile on Haines point leads me to make sure I have a portion of my run that is isolated and flat with nothing to visually distract me).

For the next few weeks I am going to select my routes with a little more focus and care, ensuring that I hit all the points that I struggle with so that my body and brain are use to them and can easily push through them.

I still wish I knew what exactly it was that invaded my stomach but I guess I will never know. On the upside I got pizza AND a well planned out training route.

Happy Running!

 

Friday Fun-day

This has been a week for sure, I have had some rather roller coaster cranky moments; see the graphic in yesterday’s post.  I have been feeling overwhelmed trying to juggle the myriad of responsibilities I have chosen to get myself involved in. Mostly though I haven’t been sleeping particularly well which like a toddler impacts my sunny disposition.

At work, things have been a little frustrating and disheartening. To be honest I really don’t fit in with the vast majority of my coworkers. I have always kind of the quiet, hard working odd duck to those around me. I feel that an office is a professional place that deserves a certain level of professionalism in behavior. When my wife was summarily fired for reasons that were not her fault, my solitude at work increased. This week that sense of isolation increased as I was left out of the loop of a few important events.

With the added class impacting my training it has made me a little frustrated. I am sure that much of that frustration is based solely on the fact that it is nearly “marathon month.” The last few weeks I am constantly thinking of ways to improve and what things I do to fix/tweak issues. It’s an end game run in my brain that is constantly going, which is pretty exhausting.

On a happier note, went to dinner with a college friend of mine at a local restaurant. It’s always a challenge balancing a social life and training, especially when the fun-day occurs the day before a long run. BUT I was excited to hang out and catch up. The advantage of the Main Cup is that we have gone to the restaurant before so I know what to expect and I know what they offer menu wise. That is something that is always challenging when going out to eat because I always worry that something is going to set me back nutritionally.

I did enjoy an adult beverage, which is a little out of the norm for me. But I had decided to not be quite as strict about that aspect of training this year. In years past I do not partake in adult beverages for the entirety of training, but I found this year that being a little more lax has made me not quite so stressed out. I find it enjoyable to treat myself every once in a while. I balanced the whiskey sour with quite a bit of water to ensure that I am properly hydrated.

It was a fun evening filled with laughs and catching up on our lives the last few years. It was an early night, something that the four of us laughed about. We giggled that calling it a night 9 PM was such weak sauce when we had all spent most of our early adult years STARTING our night at 9 PM.

Even though going out the night before a long run isn’t ideal, I was looking forward to the camaraderie and fun-ness that will ultimately help me relax after such a long stressful week. It is just what I need to drain the stress away so I can approach my long run with a clear and positive mind.

Happy Running!

 

Java-The Language Not The Beverage

Wednesday are suppose to be my moderately long distance runs. Typically between five to eight miles. However I forgot when I signed up for classes that taking another non-online course would mean one more day away from training.

Although, considering the amount of rain that we are now finally getting running probably would not have been an option. We are expected to get three to five inches of rain in the next couple days. I literally made it into the building before the sky opened up and the rain came down in blinding sheets.

My Wednesday night class is an object design class so I’ll be learning to write Java. I’m kind of excited despite having no computer science experience. My ultimate goal is to work in forensic accounting, in order to get there in addition to accounting I need some computer experience.

I am the only non-computer science major in the packed class. I am also the oldest person in the class, beside the professor. However the class thankfully is geared towards those with no programming experience. It was a really informative class. Personally, whenever I learn something new that I didn’t know anything about before I feel energized and excited. I found myself really excited about the prospect of learning a new skill set. It is the geeky part of the marathon runner.

While I am irked that class will interrupt my training but since class doesn’t start until 6:30 PM I can come home and run at least three miles and still have enough time to get showered and ready before class.

It’s not ideal BUT I am getting the consistency and training in that will make the marathon the most successful and well prepared marathon I have ever done. As flustered as I feel many days that real life gets in the way of training, I am excited to be embarking on a new academic endeavor while finding out how to balance all the things I love.

Happy Running!

 

 

Tax Law And Sore Quads

I got a B on my Tax Law exam, I’m irritated because I missed an A by 1 point…and I would have earned those points if I had more careful read the final question and realized I needed to include the deduction for the fictional persons work mileage. Oh well, on the upside I have an A in the class overall.

My quads are still a little sore from my Monday night late run that was so quickly after Sunday night’s training. I was relieved for the rest day. I spent some time rolling my legs, focusing not only on my quads but also on my ankles.

Thankfully the pain in my foot has dissipated as I have taken to rolling regularly.  Not only is there improvement in the pain but I also have found there to be an improvement in my running. It’s not 100% pain free but rolling has definitely reduced the issue. Also, as much as I love wearing flip flops I have all but eliminated wearing them except for short distances.

How has rolling impacted your running? Have you found an improvement in pain and form? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Running!

 

Tax Law Tuesday

No running for me yesterday since I had my tax law class. It was probably a good thing since my legs were still feeling heavy and a bit store from Monday’s run.

Class was so-so, we had an open book exam that I managed to fly through rather quickly. Though seeing the rest of the class take almost the entire exam period makes me nervous that I over estimated my knowledge of the material. However unlike my classmates I had pages flagged and I spent less time searching. That could have either been a good thing or a bad thing. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of open book exams. Perhaps it’s because my undergraduate professors had a tendency of making the open book/take home exams incredibly and unnecessarily difficult; I ended up having to study as if it was a regular closed book exam. Time will tell next week when I get the exam back.

In terms of training, I didn’t do anything incredibly interesting. I did my walk at lunch and got a good brisk mile in. I also rolled my quads before class since my quads were sore to the touch in a couple spots.

It was as soon as my quads have been in quite a while so I spent a lot of time slowly going over the couple hot spots I had. I have a friend that foam rolled the other day but said she didn’t want to put too much weight down, so it was more like a massage. Internally I was thinking why bother than. I know that foam rolling can be incredibly painful, especially when done right after working out/running which is something I am working on being more consistent with; but if you take the easy way it won’t be nearly as effective.

I do not like the theory of “no pain, no gain” however in regards to foam rolling I feel that pain is the best way to make gains in muscle healing which will by extension lead to gains.

To round out my rest day, Jesi and I hit up Joann’s to get supplies for her costume. This weekend is the town’s Heritage Day Festival. Yep, it is just like those small town festivals you see on Hallmark movies. Her child care center has a Wizard of Oz themed float, Jesi is dressing as Glinda. I will be one of the Lollipop Kids complete with large (Styrofoam) lollipop.  We shall see what 20 yards of pink tulle and some fabric glue with get us.

Not the most exciting day, but my body was definitely relieved to have a rest day focused on recovery and taxes.

Happy Running!

First Day Back Grind

First day back from vacation is ALWAYS challenging. Getting back into the routine of being at a desk and wearing dress clothes is a chore. Thankfully, my boss was on the road so I was able to get the key aspects of my job completed and could catch up at a little more relaxed pace than I had anticipated.

My first day back was a little more relaxed and low key than Jesi’s. Jesi was pulled in a multitude of directions to solve problems and issues. I’m not sure that she even had enough time to catch her breath between issues. In my attempt to remain positive about things and look at things with a more optimistically pragmatic approach I viewed the unexpected necessity to walk home from the office as a good thing.

Jesi was stuck at her job until 6 PM, which would have meant me being at the office until 6:30 PM or even 7 PM. I was frustrated because being at the office that late meant not only would I potentially be stuck in an alarmed building after a 12 hour day, but I ran the risk of not getting my training miles in.

After some consideration, I made the ultimate decision to walk home from the office. I was scheduled to do 4 miles that day and thought that a 5.25 mile walk with brief case and lunch box would be a sufficient substitute. I viewed it as a way to kill two birds with one stone…I get my training in and  I get to be home at reasonable hour.

Probably the only thing I would have changed was not walking home in the hot afternoon sun in a dark navy blue dress shirt. Also, I realized how shot my under the desk lunch sneakers were. I felt my shins twinge around mile 3, which could have been that I had to do some off the beaten path walking to avoid traffic.

I wouldn’t want to do the walk home on the regular, and certainly not with a brief case in tow, but occasionally and better planned out it’s a good way to end the day.

Have you ever had to get creative in how you smashed together training and commuting? What did you have to do?

Happy Running!

Magic Kingdom

8 miles! We walked 8 miles! After spending the day riding rides and watching the amazing fireworks over the castle. We also got a chance to see the Electric Light parade before it makes it way back to Disneyland.

14249935_10154605773149175_3889844645462222531_oIt was a super fun day with only slight issues of anxiety for me. Large groups and confined spaces make me tense and when they are occurring simultaneously I border on panic. I know, I know then when in the world did I go to Disney where those two instances happen on the regular? Seeing my wife’s reaction to the castle for the first time definitely made it all worth while. Also hearing her scream and swear like a sailor when we road Space Mountain was an added bonus as well.

By the time we made it back to the tram after walking, riding and souvenir shopping we had put in roughly 7 miles. However the wait for the tram to take us back to our car was going to be at least 45 minutes. Rather than wait around and risk being even later arriving home, we decided to just walk back to the car.

While I didn’t get running miles in today, making the decision to walimg_7407k despite the level of fatigue we were all feeling was an empowering feeling. I tried to keep a brisk and consistent pace and took the opportunity to view it as a training experience. Even though I didn’t run, and I probably could have, I still took the route that was going to better me overall in terms of athletic endeavors but also healthful endeavors. In reality, that is the ultimate goal of my marathon running is to be healthy.

Happy Running!

 

 

Beach Day

Sleeping in has never felt so great! The last few days of sleeping past 8 AM after going to bed at a reasonable hour has been so incredibly rejuvenating. I made the conscious decision not to run today. My legs are feeling heavy and tired from the standing and walking from our time at the parks, and tomorrow will provide to be equally as long.

Jesi seemed when surprised when I said no to running because we are going to the beach. As a New Englander, her experience with beach waves is pretty limited. The Cape never sees the huge swells that are common in southern beaches. I knew that our time at the beach and in the water would be spent body surfing and fighting the waves as they came rolling in.

We both spent significant time spewing salty water out of lips and and equal amount standing back up after being knocked down. Particularly humorous was when Jesi for some reason decided to punch the wave in frustration and was then promptly knocked on her butt by the wave that came from her left. In my defense, she was laughing before I was.

I’m finding the time away from running is making me equal parts anxious and relieved. Anxious because the marathon is mere weeks away and I need to get the miles in. My body needs the miles and the practice and consistency. But at the same time there is a bit of relief because I am so focused and concentrated on the goal. It’s ironic that the thing that makes me anxious is the same thing that I find relieving, two sides of the same coin for lack of a better term.

I am finding that even when I am not running I am thinking about. The time spent relaxing, I was reading and watching videos and learning new things. There is always comfort in my geekyness. It helps to settle my nerves. I’m also relieved because even though I have taken a slight step back during a crucial time, I recognize that this time off is important on some levels.

I have a tendency to become addicted to things rather easily whether they be good, bad or in between. For me to be able to take a step back for just a brief time and recenter myself and re-balance myself with the rest of my life is a huge help. My addictive tendency drives me for both good and bad reasons. Taking a little time off and refocusing my attention on my wife and just reconnecting has been an even bigger help than the miles that I am missing.

Setting aside the philosophical, I knew that to do ten miles and then go battle the waves after walking some distance on the sand would only end up shredding my legs; potentially injuring myself. In the end my greatest fear is that I will get injured during such an amazingly productive training time. History has proven that I am prone to tendinitis as well as issues with my knees and hips. Part of my acceptance of my rest is an overall fear that I will be injured if I continue forward in such a no-holds bar focused manner. The goal for me is to actually get to the start line and then make it to the finish.

All in all, it was a great day. Super fun day at the beach that is heralded as the Shark Bite capital of the world. Thankfully I neither spotted sharks or was bitten by one so I would say that the day was a win-win. Besides I got some cross training in and spent time with the family.

Happy Running!